OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A measure that increases the penalty for stalking is heading to the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
The Oklahoma Senate approved House Bill 3286 on Tuesday.
HB 3286 would increase the penalty for stalking from a misdemeanor to a felony while also providing a warning to those who are accused of stalking.
“Oklahoma has the highest rate of domestic violence, including partner stalking, in the nation,” Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, (R-Adair) said. “Our state also ranks among the highest in the country for violent crimes, including third in the nation for the number of women killed in single victim and homicide.
The punishment for stalking would increase from one year to up to three years in prison. Also, the fine for stalking would jump from $1,000 to $10,000.
“We know stalking is strongly correlated with homicide and physical and emotional violence. In fact, 76 percent of women murdered by an intimate partner were stalked first as well as 85 percent of women who survived a murder attempt. This is a serious problem, and we must increase our stalking penalties to prevent this behavior from escalating to violent assaults, rape or murder.”
The measure also requires law enforcement to provide a stalking warning letter to the accused when a complaint is made.
“The stalking warning letter has been implemented in other states, and the number of stalking cases were reduced significantly in those areas,” Bergstrom said. “My hope is that by passing this legislation we will have a similar reduction in the number of occurrences of stalking.”
The measure now heads to the House of Representatives for their final approval before heading to the governor’s desk.